Only one of three independent candidates for president has collected enough valid signatures to appear on the ballot for the July 1 presidential election, electoral authorities announced yesterday.
Former first lady Margarita Zavala narrowly met the minimum number of signatures to qualify but the other two independents, who had seemed to have secured their positions in the presidential race, were ruled ineligible. They have five days to challenge the ruling.
After a review of the signatures presented by Zavala, Jaime Rodríguez and Armando Ríos Piter, the National Electoral Institute (INE) determined that a large percentage of them did not meet the requirements or were people who were not registered to vote.
All three candidates submitted signatures well in excess of the minimum of 866,593 required, but only just over a third of the total number of signatures were deemed acceptable.
Among the irregularities the INE detected were duplicate signatures, invalid or fraudulent voter credentials and signatures from people who are not on the electoral roll either because they do not exist or they have been disqualified from voting.
At a press conference, INE official Benito Nacif said that 870,168 signatures sent by Zavala were deemed valid. However, that figure only represents 55% of the 1,578,000 signatures she collected.
The percentages of signatures presented by Rodríguez and Ríos Piter that were considered valid was even lower.
The former submitted just over 2 million but only 835,511, or 41% of the total collected, were approved by the INE. That leaves the currently on-leave governor of Nuevo León just over 30,000 signatures short of the number required.
In a video uploaded to his social media accounts, Rodríguez accused the INE of being “hijacked” by the party system, stating “it doesn’t matter how many millions of signatures we have presented, it would never have been enough.”
However, he vowed to take up the case with the INE and prove that the signatures he collected are legitimate and therefore valid.
In Ríos Piter’s case, only 14% of the more than 1.7 million signatures he sent were deemed legitimate.
The INE said the senator from Guerrero had just 242,646 valid signatures of support leaving him well short of the minimum number necessary to qualify.
Ríos Piter also defended the legitimacy of the signatures he collected in a video uploaded to his Twitter account.
The INE will make a final determination on March 29 as to who makes the ballot.
Zavala, who quit the National Action Party (PAN) to run as an independent when it became clear she would not receive the party’s nomination, is fourth in most opinion polls behind frontrunner Andrés Manuel López Obrador, Ricardo Anaya and José Antonio Meade.